I sometimes give free marketing advice, mostly to startups, less often to established businesses.
The best time to get that advice is when you are writing your business plan. That’s because decisions like ‘who is my target market’, ‘what is my product offering’, ‘what channels should I use’ and ‘what is my business model’ are critical early-stage questions that determine strategy. Branding can wait. Social media can definitely wait.
I recently consulted to two different organisations who said – we’d like to deal with you and will call when we finish the business plan. That’s like deciding on all your building materials before meeting your architect.
Look, as a founder, you’re in love with your own idea. The chances of you listening to advice are slim but they’re better before you’ve invested time and energy. A Perth lady recently invested $200K building an app that already had several well-established solutions in market. She did not want to hear that she’d wasted her money.
An experienced marketing consultant will tell you if your baby is ugly. They’ll tell you which rooms in your house need renovating and which should be demolished.
Here’s an example of early intervention: I recently advised a company with a promising web-based product. It’s a two-sided market. They need consumers and they need suppliers. The business sits in the middle. They’re using social media to try and get suppliers to sign up. On paper it’s a compelling offer but in practice an uphill battle because there are insufficient consumers on the platform to excite suppliers.
They asked me to help improve their social media but the right strategy is to switch from push to pull strategy – take advantage of their REALLY strong consumer proposition, invest in a good PR person and get the thing on mainstream media. Three months after it’s chock-full of consumers, suppliers will rush to join.
When you engage a marketing consultant, the best value you’ll get is probably the first ten – twenty hours. It may be the difference between you succeeding and failing. It may get you to profitability years quicker. If you don’t get a fistful of great ideas you got a dud consultant. Instead of rushing to spend $5K on Facebook, invest in some objective strategic advice. That’s my objective strategic advice.
I give free advice without obligation to approved applicants. You brief me fully then I give you an honest assessment and usually some recommended actions. Then you decide if there’s anything else I might usefully do for you.